EyePlorer – beta visual search engine

eyePlorer2I have been looking at other visual search engine alternatives to SearchMe. Beta visual search engine EyePlorer is a reference search engine that takes your initial keyword search term and displays related terms in a color wheel of information based around that term. When you hover over the different areas of the color wheel or click on a topic, information (from Wikipedia) is revealed about that term in the default eyePlorer facts window that opens up. If the information is useful and you want to save for later use, you can drag it  onto the EyePlorer notebook at the side. These facts you put into the notebook can be rearranged as needed. Once you have your notes, you can either save, copy or email them.You also have the option of choosing websearch view, that offers links to other sites or an images window (results from Bing). The images are also linked to their sites of origin.eyePlorer-images

These short explanations from Wikipedia could help give students an overview of the topic without having to read the whole article. They could then go on to do a more indepth search with a better understanding of the topic. All students I know understand about checking the data for accuracy.

Other options for EyePlorer users include:

  • “i” button under the search box. Click on this to get a quick summary of the topic
  • “+” button to add search parameters
  • the paper button to go to a Google search.

Class use:

This is a an interesting way for students to think about research and explore for new information.  Students very easily create a visual guide to their inquiry. It is then a very easy step to drag and drop what they find out into a notebook. This can form the basis for more in-depth research. The brief notes could enable students to see note making as a way taking down main points and important ideas, rather than copying whole slabs of text. The way that the information in the notebook can be rearranged could  also help them to go on to think about or work on organising ideas into some sort of order to form the basis of some structure for an argument, conjecture or essay.

It could also be used on a class wide basis.  When a teacher wants to introduce a new concept/idea. Using a data projector, so the whole class can watch, the teacher could type the subject into the search and then the whole class could work together to decide which information they want/need to save in the (class)notebook for later. It would also allow the whole class to work on the above ideas.

eyePlorer was created in Germany so you can choose to search in German or English. I had heard that you need to manually choose English but I typed in search terms with English spelling and it automatically searched for results in English for me

Keeping your profiles in Sync. – AtomKeep

atomkeep

 

 

 

 

I, like a lot of people, am now joining/using quite a number of social sites.

Today I read about AtomKeep,which is a tool that attempts to rectify the problem of keeping all your profiles up-to-date. It supports a large number of sites (Twitter, Technorati, Facebook, Digg, Ning, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger, YouTube and more) and they are adding more sites all the time. Partial support of MySpace started towards the end of last year. 

I really like idea that I can enter an update for my profile into AtomKeep and, when I use the “sync”, the data in my other profiles is updated at the same time. As a professional tool this is a good way to keep everything updated and accurate.

There is another thing that is possible. I find filling out profiles for new sites fairly boring and irritating. You know what sort of information you have to fill out: Name & Address, Contact, Education, User Image, Work, Professional Summary, etc.  Atomkeep offers a useful alternative to this because it can fill them out for you. Bonus I say!

Reading about the tool, it warns that, if you do choose the “sync” option, all sites will be changed, therefore if, for example, you have a different photo on different sites, they will all change to the new one, but I don’t think this is a major problem and of course it can be changed back again by you. So I’m going to give AtomKeep a try and  see how it works.

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Searching your Delicious bookmarks

On the blog What I learned today, I found out that there is now a search engine for your del.icio.us bookmarks. It is called del.izzy and although still in beta format, looks interesting.  It searches through the titles of your bookmarks as well as through the contents of each bookmarked page or site. This will make it a very powerful tool.

I signed in, identifying my login and password, to begin a search. The site claims not to store your password. The initial sign-up information is to check your credentials and for all your bookmarks to be obtained (not just the public ones). To make using del.izzy faster, the bookmarks are cached and only the new ones needed to be added to new searches. Del.izzy uses Google (as a Google custom search) as its search mechanism and is a powerful search.

I tried a few searches. One search, with the keywords – book review podcast – brought up many hits. I tried – “book review” podcast – and found it reduced the hits for the search significantly.  The results screen is fairly clean and streamlined.

I can see uses for this search tool, especially when searching for reasonably specific items.

Big Posters

Examples of the posters made from the BlockPoster site. The MCG (with 30cm ruler at the side)
MCG from 4 PDF pages put together

MCG from 4 PDF pages put together

I also tried out a much larger size. From the example below I printed each page with a border. I guillotined one side off and used the other to glue the pages together, as above. You could use separate sheets and work on a display in a mosaic style. I pinned these page up quickly but this morning quite a few students had a good look at it and found it interesting.
Block Arcade - 3 pages wide

Block Arcade - 3 pages wide

Making BIG posters and other things

I am working on a new display for our library. We have a huge wall that is covered with black material. I am always aware that even A3 paper looks minuscule. I thought I would try the BlockPoster site. The claim is that you can make your small image into a very large one. It is also a free tool.

 I wanted a big picture of the MCG (to go with a AFL football display) I clicked on start, loaded up my image (max file size 1MB).

Next I decided just how large a poster I wanted. It was very quick to choose how big you want it to be: the default is 4 pages wide (but you can change this),  portrait or landscape, A4 or letter (US).

select size

select size

You continue and in a matter of seconds the pdf is ready for you to download. You can then print out your poster and construct it.

Download PDF file

Download PDF file

Everything fits together perfectly. I used a guillotine to slice off the white borders. There is a gallery that you can visit to see posters that others have created and you can email a photo of your own finished creation as well.

It took less than 2 minutes to create a large poster.  After I had done this, a teacher came in with a small image of a gameboard she needed. It was too small and needed to be larger than A3. We used the Block Poster site  and created the makings for 6 boards. The students will construct the boards (stick them together) and the boards will be laminated for future use. It was all so quick and simple.

What technology are we using now?

LOGO2.0 part I

LOGO2.0 part I,
originally uploaded by Stabilo Boss.

From the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies: Knowledge: Skills and Tools for the Learning 2.0 Age site came another list. The site aims to keep abreast of learning trends, technologies and tools in order to help educators understand them and successfully use them in learning situations. It was of The Top 100 tools for Learning 2008 and was an interesting compilation. “The list is compiled from the contributions of 194 learning professionals (from both education and workplace learning) who shared their Top 10 Tools for Learning both for their own personal learning/ productivity and for creating learning solutions for others.”

This year Delicious was on top, replacing last years top-place getter, Firefox. Skype was 3rd and Google Reader, Google Search and WordPresswere next in that order. Although I encourage our students and teachers to use other tools now available, PowerPoint is still used quite a lot in our school and it was seventh on this list. It was also the first tool that has a cost attached to it. I found it interesting to see that we are using many of the tools that were mentioned in the top 25 and that we use at our school. Of the many of the other tools further down the list, about 1/3 to 1/2 were known to me and/or used in my school. Does it mean that we follow the crowd? I prefer to think that the popular tools are there because they are stable, reasonable easy to use and have valid use in educational settings. Google had 5 tools in the top 20 and many more in the next lot of tools. All the mentioned tools have a brief description and are linked to their homepages so that you can easily find them.

It was also interesting to see the changes to the ranking from 2007. Some dropped dramatically and others have shot up the list. Word was ranked 10 last year and is 22 this year. Twitter was ranked 43 last year and is 15 this year. The trend shown by the list seems to be that we are all using more of the social tools. Sharing ideas, expertise and experiences has become important to us. We are all learning from each other and adding to the sum of knowledge. 21st century learning, we’re getting there!

I found the analysis page that you can visit to find a break down of the results. There is a lot more offered there for further reflection. I found this after I had looked over the listing. It confirmed  my thoughts that educators, in schools, universities, etc, were using a wider range of Web2.0 technologies (and free). It also noted that workplace learning was still heavily in Web1.0 and using commercially based products. 

Speaking of Google, it didn’t take them long to fight back in the “search engine wars.” Cuil was launched 2 weeks ago with the stated aim of being bigger (and better?) than Google. I have talked about the visual search engines, SearchMe and Viewzi that have been well received by many of my students and the staff. Now Google has launched a beta version of Chrome. It is supposed to be exceedingly fast Web browser, but unfortunately I have not been able to have any first-hand knowledge, as I cannot download it at work.

There has been a lot of discussion about Chrome already and I look forward to trying it out soon. The user license agreement seemed to have caused some concern, with some suggestions of a conspiracy because of the wording. It seemed to indicate that Google could re-use anything put through their browser. This was quickly rectified and Google apologized for the misunderstanding.. There have been some very positive comments about it and as more people use it, any bugs will become evident as well as the good features.

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